Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Vanilla Crème

I found a recipe last night for what Starbucks calls a Vanilla Crème, or what Martha calls Warm Vanilla Milk. Whatever you call it, the drink itself is absolutely delish. Light, cozy and perfect for fall. It is especially ideal for late night comforts as it's caffeine free.

Warm, Milky Vanilla Goodness

4 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar (I used some vanilla sugar I had made)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
ground cinnamon

1. Bring milk and sugar to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.

2. Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla and a dash of cinnamon. Continue whisking until a well blended and a pleasant foam has formed.

3. Serve in your favorite mug. For an especially delicious experience, top with homemade whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon or some festive sprinkles.

Of course you can tweak the recipe in a number of ways to make your ideal drink. Use whole milk, skim milk, soy or whatever you prefer. Adjust the vanilla, sugar and cinnamon as desired. I find that whisking the mixture constantly produces a lot of foam. If you aren't a fan of foam, simply stir. Very versatile.

I use vanilla sugar for mine as I have some made and I always jump at the chance of adding more vanilla flavor to any recipe. To make vanilla sugar I simply used two left over vanilla beans I had from the birthday cake I made my husband back in September. Never throw away your left over vanilla beans!

To make vanilla sugar:

Place the vanilla bean(s) in an airtight container with granulated sugar (two cups sugar per bean). Shake the container every day or so to distribute flavor. You will find that the sugar will absorb more and more vanilla flavor as time passes. I simply use the sugar as desired and refill the container as needed. Make vanilla sugar. Trust me, your baked goods will thank you!

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